Related: Covenant Press Conference
ATLANTA, Ga. -- The remarkable, amazing, sensational season will continue for the Covenant volleyball team.
The Lady Scots rallied from a 2-1 match deficit to defeat Birmingham Southern 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 17-25, 26-24, 15-13) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon at the Woodruff PE Center on the campus of Emory University.
Covenant will advance to the second round and face the winner of Berry and Hanover on Friday, Nov. 10 at 4:30 p.m. in Atlanta.
The win for Covenant (25-7) extends its win streak to 17 matches, tying an all-time Covenant record for all sports, while also giving the school its first win in any NCAA Tournament. It was also the first time since 2012 that a USA South member has advanced past the first round in the volleyball tournament.
Hannah Harris found quite the time to produce a career-high 17 kills as she led Covenant's 52-kill attack. Harris also added six block assists. Ginny Moore had 14 kills and 16 digs, while Schuyler Moore had 40 assists, 18 digs, seven kills, and five block assists in the win. Fellow senior Jessica Seehorn tallied 10 kills and 19 digs and Hannah Stewart recorded a team-high 23 digs. Emily Moore added 15 digs and Allie Jakes had nine combined blocks to lead the defensive effort.
As a team, Covenant had 15 blocks, out-blocking Birmingham Southern 15-10, with 97 digs. The defense limited the Panthers to a .083 hitting percentage.
In the first set, Birmingham Southern was strong on the attack, hitting over .500 midway through the set. Covenant trailed 15-8, but back-to-back kills from Ginny Moore and Schuyler Moore cut the Panthers' lead to 15-10. Consecutive Harris kills made it 17-13 and the rally continued as the Lady Scots got back-to-back combined blocks to cut the deficit to 18-17 forcing a Panther timeout. The teams traded the next few points, until a kill from Ginny Moore and an ace from Stewart gave the Lady Scots a 22-20 lead. Covenant then sealed the set with three straight points to cap the 17-5 scoring run, aided by a combined block from Ginny Moore and Chloe Storm.
The next two sets did not go Covenant's way. Birmingham Southern tallied 24 kills over the next two frames and used big runs to overcome Covenant leads and take the two games for a 2-1 match lead.
Facing a match deficit for a third straight contest, Covenant did not panic. The veteran team rarely does.
Covenant had a strong start in the fourth as the Lady Scots led 6-3 after a Harris kill and Ginny Moore ace. The lead grew to 9-4 for Covenant as Birmingham Southern was forced to call a timeout after a combined block from Schuyler Moore and Jakes was followed by a Storm ace. Covenant maintained control and held a 14-7 lead after a Seehorn kill and a combined block. The Panthers climbed back to within 18-14 heading down a critical stretch for the Lady Scots. A clutch kill from Schuyler Moore regained the lead at 21-20 and Covenant would lead 24-21 before Birmingham Southern scored two straight to make it 24-23 and tied it the next point. But a Panther error followed by a crucial combined block from Jakes and Ginny Moore gave Covenant the set victory.
In the deciding set, the teams split the first four points before Harris came alive. A huge Harris kill gave Covenant its first lead of the set at 3-2 and that was followed by a Storm and Harris combined block and another big Harris kill for a 5-2 lead. Harris continued to dominate as her fourth kill of the set gave Covenant an 8-3 lead at the switch. Birmingham Southern scored seven straight to take a 10-8 lead, and led 12-10. With Covenant down 12-11, a Panther attack was called out before the line judge called for a tipped ball. After conversing, the referees kept the call on the court tying the match at 12-12.
The Lady Scots used the momentum swing to their advantage and scored the the next two points for a 14-12 lead. After Birmingham Southern cut it to 14-13, Seehorn's 10th kill of the match secured the win.
Birmingham Southern (20-9) was led by Marjorie Ward's 20 kills and .306 hitting percentage. Emmy Kilgore had 15 kills and 16 digs, while Melaina Hissam had 32 digs. Rachel Lee tallied 45 assists and four aces.
Covenant will face the winner of Berry-Hanover in the second round on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at the Woodruff PE Center.
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